50 to 50 #3: Mount Compass dairy farm

My father hated working for other people. He always wanted to be his own man. So some time in 1962, when I was about two years old, he took me and my mother to live on a dairy farm at Mount Compass.

Sure, as I mentioned last time, in 1961 we lived on a farm near Kersbrook. But dad was just a labourer there, living in a worker’s cottage. His dream was to create a home for his wife and family. So to Mount Compass it was, and a 120-acre dairy farm on Lanacoona Road, Pages Flat, where we lived until 1971.

The boundary of the farm is still the same today. It’s even marked in Google Maps so, as usual, there’s a map over the jump.

The photo above was taken some time around 1962 or 1963. That’s Fern, one of the cows. I’ve marked the spot on the map where this photo was taken from.

Yes, the farm was so small that each cow was known by name. There were 25 to 30 cows “in milk” at any one time, plus perhaps four to six heifers, half a dozen calves and a bull. Plus two dogs and four cats.

Every cow gets pregnant every year — that’s how come they’re always lactating. But why aren’t there as many calves as cows? Well, some of the the female calves are kept, to grow into milking cows. Others are sold to other farmers. But you really only need one or two bulls to keep all the cows pregnant — yeah, dairy bulls have a pretty good life. So the other male calves are what we call “veal”.

The farmhouse is barely visible between the trees immediate above the cow’s head. I’ll post some more photos of that soon. Then from right to left we’ve got: a small shed where we kept the car; a high-roofed sideless shed where we kept the tractor and stored hay; the milking shed immediately above the cow’s tail; and finally a small run-down structure which was “dad’s shed”, full of tools and scraps of wood and a workbench where he was always at work on something that was probably never going to be finished.

I must say, I’m a little overwhelmed looking at the map and the photos and trying to decide what to write about.

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50 to 50 #2: Photos from 1 year old

Since the first post in this series included a photo of me and my father, it’s only sensible that today you see my mother.

I’m fairly sure this photo was taken at the same home at 43 Adelaide Road, Gawler that I mentioned last time. There’s other photos from that time too, and I’ve just now posted them on Flickr.

However I’m told that in 1961 we moved to live on a farm near the village of Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills — although I have no memory of this at all. As shall now be usual, there’s a map over the jump.

I do have memories of the Gawler house, though. Fuzzy ones. Lying in a pram looking at the plaster mouldings in a white ceiling. The green leaves of the nasturtium plants in the back garden contrasting with the reddish brown of the corrugated iron fence. The yellow of the pumpkins.

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50 to 50 #1: Born in Gawler

Fifty days from today is my 50th birthday. Yes, Five Zero. This is the first in a series of blog posts to celebrate that milestone.

I’m not quite sure how this will unfold, except that each day I’ll find a photo or object or concept that relates to the year of my life in question — in this case that’s, erm, gulp, 1960 — and see what emerges.

Today’s photo was taken when I was just six weeks old.

That’s my father holding me. He was 35 years old. Yes, rather old for that era, but he’d been married before and had a daughter. The fact that he divorced and re-married was so scandalous in rural South Australia that the daughter was taken away to live with her grandparents and they cut off all contact with him. The first time I met anyone from my father’s side of the family was at his funeral a decade later.

And yes, dad is smoking around the baby. Different times, eh? Not the ever-present pipe I remember him for, but a black Bakelite cigarette holder.

The dog’s name was Toby.

The photo would have been taken by my mother using a Kodak Box Brownie camera in the back yard of our house at 43 Adelaide Road, Gawler. The house is still there, but with what looks like a really low-grade renovation.

I’ll also be posting photos at Flickr (there’s another 6-weeks-old image there already) and mapping locations at Google Maps (see over the jump).

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Links for 23 August 2008

Here are the web links I’ve found for 23 August 2008, posted automatically with mirth and cabbage.